When it comes to games, Facebook has been out of the drivers seat for quite a while. One need only look at the embattled Zynga to see Facebook’s diminished role colloquially in the gaming business — especially as mobile gaming rises. But the social media company is betting that embracing mobile and cross-platform engagement, rather than competing with it, will be the way to keep games growing in the future.
At panel Monday at the Games Developer Conference in San Francisco, Aaron Brady, an engineering manager on the games team, highlighted some interesting statistics. According to an internal study, highlighted in a blog post, an average of 375 million people play Facebook-connected games each month, across both desktop and mobile. And cross-platform is a boon for the company: Cross-platform engagement is 2.5 times the level of mobile-only players, and 1.5 times the level of desktop-only players.
In a more selective second internal study, which gathered data from September to November 2013, Facebook saw more nuanced behavior with cross-platform engagement:
- Mobile-only users exhibited an increased engagement of 40 percent in mobile and desktop after they became cross-platform users.
- Desktop-only users exhibited an increased engagement of 21 percent in mobile and desktop after they became cross-platform users
Facebook’s research points towards its desire to double-down on cross-platform gaming, and it’s easy to see how users could become significantly more engaged after getting their Candy Crush Saga fix both on mobile and on Facebook. But, that’s not to say that cross-platform usage is a slam-dunk that could restore the company to its former gaming glory: Compared to mobile marketplaces like the iTunes App Store and Google Play, Facebook still woefully lacks in content. In order to take advantage of cross-platform gaming, Facebook needs to make a strong case to woo mobile users to its site for their favorite games.